Harriet Kussman celebrated her 103rd birthday last Thursday at Living Oaks. She has lived at the assisted living facility for almost two years.
Harriet was born in Berlin on May 22, 1908, and lived most of her life in Amherst Junction on a farm near Lake Emily. She and her husband, Otto, were blessed with two children, Paul and Alinda; three grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and three step-great-grandchildren.
Harriet was an elementary teacher for almost 30 years. She taught in rural schools and in the Amherst School District.
“I wanted to be a home economics teacher,” she stated, “But my father couldn’t afford to send me to Stout University.” Instead, she attended the County Normal School in Berlin. She also attended college for one year in Oshkosh, where she met her future husband.
Her first teaching job was in Rhinelander, where she stayed for six years. In those days, she recalled, schoolteachers were not allowed to be married or pregnant.
In 1938, she married Otto and moved to his family’s farm in Amherst Junction. He died in 1986.
Harriet doesn’t know why she has lived for over a century. Her parents only lived to be 84.
“We’re blessed to have her yet,” said Patricia Kussman, her daughter-in-law.
According to the nutritionists at Living Oaks, Harriet eats half a banana every morning. She always asks for the blossom end because it has the most potassium.
Harriet has also taken daily vitamins since the 1930s. She is just now starting to feel her age.
“People wish me ‘many happy returns,'” Harriet laughed. “But I say ‘not many happy returns.'”